Nuclear energy is back on the UK government’s agenda. However, concerns about safety have plagued this technology for decades. Given it kills less people than wind, coal or gas, why are we so radiophobic?

Guardian 25th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 25 May 2018


Desperate times call for desperate propaganda. Accordingly, the declining nuclear power industry would have you believe that bananas are a teensy bit too radioactive for comfort. If you eat a banana a day, they say — or for that matter live in Denver, or fly in an airplane, or salt your food with Morton’s — then you are a high-risk taker who would be far safer just living contentedly next door to a nuclear power plant. We debunked these false arguments in our 2013 report, Pandora’s False Promises (see page 30 on bananas.) At the Cop23 Climate Talks last November in Bonn, a group calling itself, oxymoronically, Nuclear for Climate, hoped delegates would once again slip on their false banana propaganda and fall for their nonsensically unscientific notion that bananas are actually more dangerous than nuclear power plants! I am not making this up. They actually handed out bananas complete with a sticker that read: “This normal, everyday banana is more radioactive than living near a nuclear power plant for one year.” We’ve long contended that these pro-nuclear front groups treat the public like readily dupable dunderheads. But it’s they who are the dunderheads if they really think we would believe this piffle. Frankly, if this is all they’ve got, then the industry rhetoric is now on a par with its finances: in full bankruptcy.

Beyond Nuclear 20th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 May 2018


It’s a tale almost as old as time, except that the “White Man” has not been around as long as that. But long enough to massacre, expel, plunder, desecrate, abandon, repeat. It’s the story Native Americans know all too well — a Trail of Tears that never really ended. Sacred places and burial sites disrespected, traditions ignored, the health and well-being of people dismissed, while the fundamental civil rights of indigenous populations in the United States continue to be trampled on by the US government and its friends in industry. It would be tempting to say that the current battle over resumption of uranium mining at the sacred Mount Taylor, which sits atop one of the richest known uranium ore reserves in the country, is just the latest in this long and shameful saga. But it is not alone. There are stories like this everywhere in Indian Country — Bears Ears would be just one more example.

Beyond Nuclear 20th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 May 2018

Nuclear Security

The Government is so concerned about the global threat to nuclear power stations that it is seeking a company to provide security training to foreign operators. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a £6m tender for a private company to deliver what it calls a National Security Culture Programme. It is part of a wider push to make sure that chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials are out of reach to terrorist groups or hostile states. The successful company will be sent to overseas nuclear facilities to deliver training on attack prevention by helping organisations to increase security and better protect sensitive information. According to the tender documents, found by procurement company Tussell, the job will be aimed at overseas civil nuclear sites.

Telegraph 20th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 May 2018


A nuclear reactor at Hunterston could be offline until the end of the year after root cracks were discovered in its core. EDF Energy has said that, while Hunterston B Reactor 3 could return to operation from the current outage, it will remain offline while the company works with the regulator to ensure that the longer term safety case reflects the findings of the recent inspections. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would seek ‘further assurance’ on safety from EDF Energy, after questions were raised at the Scottish Parliament by Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson. Mr Gibson said: “I am deeply concerned at the news that EDF Energy has had to keep Reactor 3 at Hunterston B out of action for repairs until the end of 2018, as a precaution, after expected new keyway root cracks in the reactor core were found to be happening at a slightly faster rate than expected. I asked the First Minister, who was due to meet with EDF Energy’s Chief Executive, to seek assurances that safety will remain EDF’s number 1 priority and that, once repairs are completed fully, Hunterston B will continue to operate at least until its planned closure in 2023 and prior to the commencement of decommissioning. “I have also written to ask about the Scottish Government’s efforts regarding contingencies being put in place to replace the jobs if the plant closes early.” Drew Cochrane, who sits on the Hunterston site stakeholders group, said: “Having listened intently to experts from the Office of the Nuclear Regulator at the Hunterston Stakeholders Group meeting and having had an on site tour and demonstration of the Hunterston B reactors the reality is that there are 6000 bricks and 3000 fuel bricks. “There are a small number of cracks which have been discovered which are the size of the head of a ballpoint pen. The experts say that there would have to be 350 cracked bricks to be a serious situation. A Green MSP is challenging the Scottish Government to give the community a say in any decision to extend the plant’s lifetime. Ross Greer says the lack of public consultation has been unacceptable, while highlighting that European law says all ageing nuclear power stations should have an environmental impact assessment.

Largs & Millport News 11th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 May 2018


The nuclear industry and Cuadrilla have a vested interest in not putting the spotlight on Springfields. They have a vested interest in not highlighting the thousands of lorryloads of for example uranium hexaflouride arriving at and leaving the plant. The Springfields site is the spinning spider at the centre of the web of the Government’s new nuclear build and continuing nuclear weapons agenda. Adding fracking to this toxic brew is obsene and it does the campaign against fracking no favours in keeping quiet about it. Does the Inspector of the Roseacre Wood inquiry have details of the HGV movements to and from Springfields site – If not why not? Certainly fracking campaigners have been kept in the dark about it. If only Radiation Free Lakeland have raised the issue of nuclear cargo on the same route as fracking lorries then something is wrong . The recent public inquiry into fracking at Roseacre Wood should have had Springfields dangerous nuclear and chemical transports at the centre of the inquiry.

Radiation Free Lakeland 11th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 12 May 2018

Low Level Radiation and Health

Low level radiation and health conference Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4A. June 23rd & 24th; including Prof. Carmel Mothersill, McMaster University, Canada; Prof Tim Mousseau, University of Colorado, US.

Contact: jillsutcliffe1(at)gmail.com.

Posted: 12 May 2018


The UK government has launched an open consultation on the future regulation of nuclear sites in the final stages of decommissioning and clean-up. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the consultation seeks to enable a “more flexible approach that can optimise waste management, thereby realising environmental benefits and reducing costs”. There are 36 nuclear sites located across England, Wales and Scotland, each comprising one or more nuclear installations. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for the decommissioning and clean-up of 17 of these sites. Other sites to be decommissioned in the future include the operational nuclear power stations owned by EDF Energy, and other nuclear sites in the nuclear fuel cycle, reprocessing, waste management, pharmaceutical and research sectors. A new nuclear power station is under construction at Hinkley Point C, and industry has set out plans to construct other new nuclear facilities in England and Wales which will need to be decommissioned at some future date.

World Nuclear News 10th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 11 May 2018


Anthony Froggatt, IGov Team and Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House: Managing reactors as they age is now a global concern and the AGRs are no exception. Most recently new keyway root cracks have been found in graphite bricks in the core of the Hunterston B reactor. These have been occurring at a rate slightly higher than had been predicted. This is a particular safety concern as this can lead to the degradation and therefore the efficient operation of the keying system, which houses the fuel and control rods and enable the cooling (Co2) to circulate. A paper published by the IAEA warns that “Cracks that rapidly propagate are likely to cause a second key-way crack on the opposite side of the brick almost instantly – splitting the brick in two.” This issue may well become a life limiting factor for the AGRs, as it is not possible to replace the bricks and questions have been raised if the reactor in question will be able to restart. However, EDF Energy say that they expect the unit will return to service before the end of 2018. As it currently stands the remaining 8.9 GW of nuclear capacity will close over a 12-year period, starting in 2023. However, rather than wondering if the AGRs could be given further life extensions, questions should now be asked about the supply implications if some, or all, of the AGRs are unable to operate as envisaged. With Brexit raising questions about the financing and schedules for some interconnections, government policies slowing down the deployment of onshore renewables despite their tumbling costs, and the existing plans for the closure of the remaining coal stations, urgent consideration must be given to ensure supply, energy efficiency and flexibility from now on. Onshore and offshore renewables need to be at the heart of the future system. This would be good for the environment and competitiveness, as the last few years have seen a remarkable change in economics of renewable energy and it is now recognized that by 2020 electricity from renewables will be ‘within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels’ and are already significantly lower than the current prices offered for nuclear new build.

IGov 9th May 2018 read more »

Cracks in the core of a Scottish nuclear reactor could signal that most of Britain’s ageing plants will not be able to supply the country with much needed power for as long as predicted. “These reactors are over 40 years old. This is a generic defect which cannot be fixed so it would not surprise me if the older plants would all need to close within the next few years,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineering consultant. Britain’s electricity generation is under scrutiny due to a plan to close coal-fired power plants by 2025 and weak economic conditions for investment in new gas plants. There are also doubts about the timetable for EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant which is not expected to come online until the end of 2025, and the proposed Sizewell C plant, which is not even being built yet. French utility EDF said the Hunterston B shutdown was due to new cracks developing faster than expected in graphite bricks in one reactor’s core. These bricks are used in all 14 advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors (AGRs) in Britain which drive seven out of eight of the country’s plants. “We believe that most of the AGRs will have their life limited by the progression of cracking,” Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) says on its website, adding that this presents “unique challenges”. EDF Energy said the shutdown at the Hunterston B reactor would result in a forecast reduction of 3 terrawatt hours in its total nuclear output for this year. Based on current UK baseload power prices, that could equate to a loss of around 120 million pounds. The firm also says it has spent more than 100 million pounds in the last five years on graphite research. “The thing which will close (these reactors) down in the end will be the cost of ensuring safety. It is possible to make a safety case for a significant amount of cracked bricks but it takes time and costs money,” said Barry Marsden, professor of nuclear graphite technology at the University of Manchester.

Reuters 9th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 10 May 2018


The regulation of nuclear sites in the final stages of decommissioning and clean-up. Working with the regulators and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), BEIS has identified an opportunity to improve current arrangements that apply to the regulation of the final stages of nuclear site decommissioning and clean-up. We published a discussion paper on the principle of these proposals in November 2016 and are now consulting on the detailed proposals, in particular the arrangements for exiting the nuclear third party liability regime and for ending the nuclear site licence.

BEIS 8th May 2018 read more »

The chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has addressed hundreds of people at an industry conference. David Peattie was one of the keynote speakers at the three-day TotalDecom2018 event, where he spoke about decommissioning progress, innovation and cross-sector working. The flagship annual event, in Manchester, welcomed top representatives from the nuclear, oil and gas, defence, renewable energy and waste sectors. Mr Peattie talked about the task of managing the energy legacy safely and responsibly, as well as identifying the opportunities and overcoming the challenges of decommissioning. Highlighting the collaboration between the nuclear and oil and gas sectors, he said: “Technologies developed for use on the NDA’s sites, such as snake-arm robotics, are now being used to solve challenges in the oil and gas sector.

Whitehaven News 8th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 9 May 2018